Arnaz “The Nazty One” Smith:Great Expectations… Rolling With Young Jeezy and CTE

One of the most important words to any up-and-coming producer is ‘placement.’ Getting a standout track on the album of a Billboard peaking rapper is as good as gets for sticking your foot in the door.   So Arnaz “The Nasty One” Smith knows he was blessed to land his staff producer job with Young […]

One of the most important words to any up-and-coming producer is ‘placement.’ Getting a standout track on the album of a Billboard peaking rapper is as good as gets for sticking your foot in the door.


So Arnaz “The Nasty One” Smith knows he was blessed to land his staff producer job with Young Jeezy’s Corporate Thugz Entertainment last year before even placing a track on one of his albums. But obviously the Snowman saw something in the former strip club employee, or he wouldn’t have picked four of his tracks for USDA’s recently released Cold Summer mixtape project. Obviously Jeezy’s taste in production is shared by other Hip-Hop junkies, because the album’s single “Corporate Thuggin” is in steady rotation, and Arnaz’s contributions to the project are being hailed as the standout cuts.


Realizing that a producer’s exposure level can quickly go from over-saturated to obscure, The Nazty One has been putting in work with CTE, as well as Slim Thug, Rick Ross, and other heavyweights to keep his name hot, and perfect his craft. With some money in his pocket, a new MPC under his arm, and the game’s A-list clientele at his fingertips, Arnaz was happy to for a chance to let everyone know how it all went down. When did you first get introduced to the game? 


The Nazty One: Well I was a musician growing up, playing piano and drums and stuff like that around church. And it’s like when I got about 15, 16-years old I started getting a little wild. I stared thinking man, ain’t no money playing in church. So I started to look for something else to get into that I could expand, so I could really make my music just pop.


I friend of mine introduced me to sequencing, and he had a little board so I could start getting into it, and I just fell in love with it. How did you come to landing the deal with Corporate Thugz?


The Nazty One: My man Nick Love was the marketing guy from CTE, and at the time he basically told Kink (co-founder of CTE) who I was and everything. So one day I just walked in there and me and Kink sat down and had a meeting. You know I brought a gang of beats, but instead I took a different approach. Instead of me coming to CTE playing a bunch of gangsta-rap tracks, I went in there with some R&B stuff. From there just showed Kink that I was really talented, because it was like “He can pretty much do everything,” and that was how it went down. What your staff production job is like? Does it limit you from working with other artists?


The Nazty One: Nah, it’s no limit in my situation, I’m allowed to work with whoever I want to work with, and that’s what I do. And at the same time I feel like on a personal note, the reason I wanted to sign to a label, is because I been producing since ’96. You doin’ it on your own, running around in the streets, I mean really it’s like being a rap artist or an R&B artist or something. It’s like being any kind of artist; you spend so much networking to the point that you don’t really have time to focus on your craft. My personal opinion of signing with CTE is like being a part of a brand; it’s something that’s a positive movement, something that’s doing a lot in the game you trying to get in. With that force behind me, along with my talent I felt like the CTE brand would make myself bigger and faster than if I was doing my thing independently. So it’s almost like Kanye West with Rocafella and all that, Mannie Fresh with Cash Money, it’s like the brand and the movement behind them, to me makes them larger than what are they was already supposed to be. No doubt. What was some of the first stuff you went out and bought with that CTE money? 



The Nazty One: (Laughs) The first thing I bought with it was, well I got rid of my old MPC 2000 because it had been through hell man. It was beat up and everything, and one of the midi-outs wouldn’t work, so I used to have to flip cords around just to dump stuff over. So the first thing I bought was a new MP, and some more equipment cause I felt like [I should] invest back into it. Wasn’t no point in me getting no chain, and all the other monkey stuff, know what I mean? I need to buy stuff I need to keep me in the game. Now what was recording the USDA album like? 



The Nazty One: The crazy part about it is working on the USDA album, I learned a lot from them, seeing them three work together. Me, I’m an observer; I just sit back and watch people. And when we was working on the album, just watching all three of them work together…to me it’s hard to take three people that are hot to come together and be able to put something together without any kind of conflict. Watching them work together, and the love they showed me when I was working, it was wonderful. It’s something I definitely want to do again. You know everybody wants to know, what’s it like rollin’ with Jeezy? Was your first impression of him different than you imagined? 



The Nazty One: It’s crazy cause, I’m from Atlanta, and I used to work at strip clubs. And when I was valet parking at the strip clubs, ain’t nobody even knowing I was doing music. I used to work at the Gentlemen’s Club back in the day when it was open, I can remember when I used to see Jeezy when he first started coming up in there, when he first started rapping. His whole movement was real to me, because I was able to see it before I got into it. So when I met him, as far as an a production/artist type situation, once I signed over and became family, I think there was nothing that could be done to shock me because I had watched them they whole career. So it was like once I met him, I really just felt like I knew him.  What producers did you look up to when you began producing?



The Nazty One: I think the first CD that I heard that made me open the CD up and say “Who produced this?” was Wu-Tang Clan. When I heard [Enter The Wu Tang]36 Chambers, I think the production was so unique on that, it just made me run to the cover. And when I started paying attention to that, that’s what made me start paying attention to producers. When it moved to the Death Row era, with Dr. Dre. And after that, of course I listened to Pharrell (Williams) and them when they came out, but outside of Dre, RZA…probably one of my favorite producers now is like [DJ] Toomp, Mannie Fresh, and people like that. So I kind of just followed music as they came. There are a lot of dudes that would like to be getting the placements you’re getting right now. How would you say your sound differs from what’s out? 



The Nazty One: My sound is built around real music, because I grew up a musician. I grew up playing in bands around local clubs, so a lot of the musician friends I got can’t produce rap, because they too musical. I think the way I grew up, along with me knowing music is what makes my sound now. It’s just real big, big horns, anthem type stuff, but yet it’s still hood. Now you’re already contributing to Jeezy’s third album, what’s that looking like at this point? 



The Nazty One: Man, right now it’s looking real, real good. I remember he came in one day, and I didn’t even know he was gonna start recording the album, and it just hit him. So he started going through beats, beats of mine, beats of other producers. And in one week he had like six or seven songs. And six or seven that are all rockin’. I know if this is the early on stage, and you knockin’ em out like that, it’s really gonna be a rough thing at the end. There’s gonna be so many hot songs to choose from and narrow it down for the people. Lastly, what can people expect from The Nazty One in 2008? 



The Nazty One: 2008 is the takeover man. It was almost like this was the introduction, so 2008 my goal is to show everybody that it wasn’t a fluke. You hear these producers come along, and they might have a hit or work on something big, and next thing you know they ain’t come out with something big or nothing in five or six years. But with me, it’s not a fluke. We gon’ keep poppin’, from one single to the next.